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Science & Exploration

N° 51–2015: ESA astronaut Tim Peake begins six-month stay on Space Station

15 December 2015

ESA astronaut Tim Peake, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut commander Yuri Malenchenko arrived at the International Space Station today, six hours after their launch at 11:03 GMT.

The Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft docked with the Space Station at 17:33 GMT. The astronauts opened the hatch at 19:58 GMT after checking the connection between the seven-tonne Soyuz and the 400‑tonne Station was airtight.

They were welcomed aboard by Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Korniyenko and Sergei Volkov, and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

This marks the start of Tim’s six-month Principia mission and the culmination of six years of training since being selected for the European astronaut corps in 2009. 

Principia will see Tim working on dozens of experiments for researchers on Earth as he orbits our planet at 28 800 km/h. Highlights of his scientific roster include growing crystals and blood vessels in space, simulating atomic structures and charting areas in the brain as they adapt to stressful situations.

A large educational programme, in cooperation with the UK Space Agency, is set to inspire and involve children and students with computer coding, fitness regimes and lessons from space with Tim as the instructor.

Tim is the third ESA astronaut to stay on the orbiting research complex this year. Samantha Cristoforetti ended her record-breaking 199-day mission in June, while Andreas Mogensen completed a busy 10-day tour in September.

Yuri, Tim and Tim have a few days to settle in and get used to working in weightlessness before starting their 40-hour work weeks running experiments and maintaining the Station.

They are in good company: Scott Kelly and Mikhail Korniyenko have been living on the Station for more than 300 days since March as part of their marathon stay to probe how the human body adapts to longer missions.

Follow Tim and Principia via

First media appearance

Media have the opportunity to speak to Tim live on 18 December from the European Astronaut Centre, the home base of all ESA astronauts. The event will be streamed at; questions can be posed only by journalists attending in person.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 20 are Member States of the EU.

ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more about ESA at

For further information, please contact:

ESA Media Relations Office
Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99